I’m not sure what Lost Vegas #4 was trying to accomplish, but if it was anything other than trying to fill as many pages as possible with gambling puns, then I missed it. I haven’t been a fan of this Image book created by the acclaimed team of Jim McCann and Janet Lee, and I have to admit that I didn’t notice it’s near three-month hiatus. Still, I was hopeful that its swan song would show me something that maybe I’d been missing. Unfortunately, it only exemplified everything I already didn’t like. Now look, the first thing I want to qualify from the above is that I am clearly a fan of bringing the punny. I don’t think I’d be a Comic Bastard if I didn’t. However, “when the chips are down,” you don’t have to “stack the deck” with a “full house” of puns just to tell us that Lost Vegas is a story about grifters and space gambling.
But McCann seems particularly obsessed this time with vigorously massaging that point into the dialogue. That would be fine if he was winking at the audience, but this is presented as the way Roland’s character speaks, and I don’t think anybody makes that many pun-riddled references to his or her own profession. It feels like overkill, used in an attempt to mask what is otherwise a pretty weakly-plotted escape story.
Roland’s “plan” feels too simple, and basically boils down to this: cause a distraction, jump from one thing to another thing, run away. Sure, there was a bit of fiery retribution thrown in there, but there was no punch to it; ironically perhaps, there just wasn’t any fire (though this may be equally an artistic complaint of the scene in question).
Meanwhile, any kerfuffles that occurred were haphazard at best, with some of the finer points of the escape hastily glazed over. The end result is as uncoordinated as one of the completely useless guards on Lost Vegas, each of whom is apparently genetically armed with the fighting prowess of a used condom. Then again, that’s henchmen for you.
I do like some of the concepts behind Lost Vegas, but it turns out that the potential in each is better than the follow-through. Science Deer, for example, was great, and by far the most cleverly-written character in the book, but being one of the quietest and most sparingly-used; his presence was more frustrating tease than anything.
Then there’s the Godspark, essentially a sentient catalyst of galactic death and/or life, but about three-quarters of the way through the book, he became more afterthought than god machine. For something powered by such a divine concept, the Godspark’s glorified aside was disappointingly shallow. So too were other elements of “the plan,” like the mass reprogramming of Lost Vegas’ slave collars. I’m still not sure why that needed to happen.
Artistically, this just doesn’t ring my bell, and unlike in earlier issues, there was no grand visual overture made by Lee this time, besides an exploding ship, which was, at very least, a pretty big bang. Those one or two intricate flourishes of each previous issue were the only things that actually kept me interested in Lost Vegas, and without anything truly stand-out this time, issue four felt rushed, and at times, surprisingly amateur.
While I have a lot of respect for the team behind it, Lost Vegas just wasn’t for me. This first arc seems to be the prologue of some bigger adventure, but I think I’ll step away from it, should it continue. Lost Vegas just isn’t my flavor of space jam.
Writer: Jim McCann
Artist: Janet Lee
Publisher: Image Comics